By BETING LAYGO DOLOR
This week, another strict lockdown will be enforced by the Duterte regime, supposedly as a necessary step to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The public is assured that restricting their movement is a must, otherwise the Philippines will see a return to the darkest days of the pandemic when the economy all but stood still, what with countless micro, small and medium-sized enterprises shutting down thereby rendering millions jobless.
There is just one thing wrong with this extreme step being taken by the regime. It does not make sense.
If the situation is as bad as they make it out to be, then a strict lockdown should have been announced sooner, as in last week when the OCTA Research think tank warned that a surge was practically a certainty.
Instead, the buck was passed around between the Health department, the Duterte Cabinet, and the IATF, during which time precious hours were lost.
The IATF or the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has such a pretentious name for a body that does so little simply because it is led by a retired general who has zero experience in healthcare. Its frequent solution to any crisis is to hold meetings late in the day.
It is already accepted that the Delta variant is highly transmissible, far worse than the original COVID-19. It may even be deadlier as there are indications that people who have already been vaccinated can still catch the new virus.
The Filipino worker and his or her family can’t get a break under the current dispensation. So many of them fall under the no work, no pay policy. Before he became president, Rodrigo Duterte promised an end to the “endo” practice whereby workers never become permanent employees because they are only given 5-month contracts, renewable for another five months, and another, and…you get the point.
With less than a year before his six-year term expires, the end-of-contract policy remains in place.
A law was passed by Congress but guess who refused to sign it into law?
Right. The one and only Rodrigo Duterte.
Friday this week is when Filipino workers will again be reduced to scrounging for scraps in order to feed themselves and their families. Some sort of minimal financial support may or may not be given them, either by the local or the national government.
The strict lockdown is supposed to last for only two weeks, but don’t bet on it.
Blame the Health department for its inaction.
Herein is a simple explanation: About two weeks ago, the University of the Philippines-based OCTA Research warned that a surge was coming due, spurred by the Delta variant. If the government did not act soon and fast, the health system would again be overwhelmed, as was the case last year.
OCTA’s dire warning stated that the number of new cases would skyrocket to 10,000 a day.
Late last week, the Health department – which had been denying that a surge was coming – did OCTA one better, with a Usec saying that the figure might be closer to 11,000/day.
As the week ended, further Department of Health guesswork said the cases could actually skyrocket to tens of thousands a day.
But there’s more! At the start of this week, another Health official said they were not capable of handling the coming surge, which could be between three and four times worse compared to 2020.
So that’s how it’s going to be. For all intents, it’s every man for himself in the next couple of weeks, or longer.
Mr. Juan de la Cruz – remember him? – will get no meaningful financial support from the government. The amount frequently mentioned is P1,000 or about $20. Try surviving on that for two whole weeks.
Neither can Mang Juan expect the healthcare system to be ready for him in the event he is infected with COVID-19 of whatever variant.
He and his family can only brace for the worst, because the worst is likely to take place under this incompetent regime that is now working double time to make sure that their candidates are elected next year.
As of this writing, check points have already been erected all over Metro Manila, with the tents manned by the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Metro Manila Development Authority, and representatives of the local governments.
Make one wrong move and be prepared to part ways with whatever funds you have in your wallets and purses, ladies and gentlemen.
We can only prepare ourselves for the worst, because the worst is sure to come.